The top 10 is getting closer, as the Big Ten postseason player rankings march forward. As a reminder, these rankings are based on performance during the 2011 season and a player's impact on his team, and not on factors such as NFL potential.
Let's head back to Husker Country for ...
No. 12: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska, Sr., 5-foot-10, 205
Preseason rank: No. 13
2011 numbers: Started 10 games at cornerback after being sidelined by a leg injury; recorded 31 tackles and six pass breakups
Why he's here: If you only look at the numbers, you're completely missing Dennard's value to the Huskers. He was the Big Ten's best shutdown cornerback and one of the best nationally. Dennard shut down arguably the Big Ten's top two wide receivers, Iowa's Marvin McNutt (4 receptions, season-low 29 receiving yards against Nebraska) and Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham (zero catches, zero yards). Opposing quarterbacks quickly discovered that throwing the ball in Dennard's direction led to bad things, so they focused on the other side of the field.
Dennard missed the first four games with a pulled muscle in his leg but buoyed Nebraska's pass defense upon his return, as the Huskers finished 18th nationally against the pass. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media — the lone defensive back to appear on both first teams — and was the league's first recipient of the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award.
No. 13: Riley Reiff, LT, Iowa
No. 14: B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State
No. 15: John Simon, DL, Ohio State
No. 16: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
No. 25: Fitz Toussaint, RB, Michigan